STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — After hearing about the USA Track and Field U18 Mountain Running Team through a friend and competitor from Eagle Valley last year, Steamboat Springs High School cross country and track athlete Maggi Congdon applied to join.
Unfortunately for her, she didn’t make the team.
However, she applied again this year, hoping to secure a spot as, next summer, she’d be 18 and therefore ineligible. Thanks to a successful past school year in both her sports, Congdon made the 2019 team comprised of seven runners, six hailing from Colorado.
“As soon as I had the information, I knew I wanted to apply because it’s such an amazing experience,” Congdon said.
Writing the letter of recommendation on her application, was Steamboat Springs cross country and track coach, Lisa Renee Tumminello.
“What is most special about Maggi is not that she’s infinitely talented, because she is, and she’s certainly enjoyed success,” Tumminello said. “But Maggi never stops pursuing excellence. That success is always well deserved. She’s a tenacious competitor, but she has an incredibly humbled heart and has such a contagious energy.”
The team of three girls and four boys, aged 16 and 17, will travel to Susa, Italy, to compete in the 14th World Mountain Running Association’s International U18 Mountain Running Youth Cup. According to trailrunner.com, this will be the third consecutive year that Team USA will have a full roster. Congdon and her teammates will be coached by Nancy Hobbs and Mark Weeks of Colorado Springs.
The race in western Italy is about 5 kilometers long and will take runners over pavement, cobblestone and single track paths near the Italian Alps on Saturday, August 24. The top three finishers per country will be scored for the team result.
At the 2019 state track and field meet, Congdon took second in the 800-meter race, finished seventh in the 1,600-meter run with a time of 5 minutes, 7.92 seconds. She also aided the 4×800 relay team to a fourth-place finish.
“I love track because it’s more focused on the speed side of things, and the races are shorter and faster, which I really like because the 800, it’s a mix of a spring and distance, which is really fun,” Congdon said. “Then I also like cross country because I like running on trails and something other than a track. I think they’re pretty even.”
In the fall, Congdon earned 26th at the state cross country meet, crossing the line at 19:50.1.
“She is so versatile,” Tumminello said. “Maggi is going to race a very vertical, technical course, but Maggi’s also been state champion in track and field in the 800 meter and the 1,600 meter. When I was writing about Maggi, or when I talk to college coaches, my comments are always that she’s so resilient and so versatile. Bottom line, she’s going to represent the USA, and she is a great ambassador. Whether she’s being an ambassador for our local Steamboat High School, or stepping into this bigger privilege with the USA team, she will do an incredible job.”
To prepare, Congdon has been keeping up her endurance and her pace but mostly, has been focusing on getting her body used to running trails.
“The biggest thing is any time I do run, to run on trails and get used to running on trails and get my body ready for that as opposed to running on the bike path or a road,” Congdon said. “To get the stability in your legs to be able to run on trails is, I think, probably one of the most important things.”
Congdon, who will be a senior at Steamboat next fall, will be joined by her family as they turn the opportunity into a two-week trip around Europe.
“I’ve never been to Europe, so I’m very excited,” Congdon said. “I’ve always wanted to go. I just never had the chance.”